Using Multi Criteria Evaluation Models to Determine New Moose Habitats after Forest Fire Outbreaks in the Big Tracadie River Wildlife Management Zone of New Brunswick, Canada
Forest fires are a natural phenomena that play a significant role in shaping Canada's landscape. They provide many benefits to multiple plant and animal species by promoting regeneration and distributing vegetation, thus providing food and shelter for wildlife. At the same time, these fires can undoubtedly produce negative consequences culminating in the destruction of habitats and displacement of wildlife. In recent decades, the amount of vegetation affected by fire in Canada's boreal forest has doubled, and as seasonal temperatures continue to increase due to global warming, it is anticipated that forest fires will continue to intensify.
The purpose of this study is to identify suitable habitats for relocation of moose populations in the event of forest fire outbreaks within the province of New Brunswick. This will be accomplished through the development and application of a GIS-based multi-criteria evaluation (MCE) model using historic forest fire data from 1980-1996. A variety of constraint factors including non-forest cover, roads, and federal and provincial parks, as well as criteria factors including past fire, forest cover, wetlands, and ecosites are identified within the study area. These factors are then subsequently weighted and standardized for equal comparison. Habitable areas within the Big Tradacide Wildlife Management Zone are then given suitability scores based on their proximity to these factors using a suitability equation on the constraint and criteria layers. A final suitability raster has been created showing the six most suitable regions for moose populations to relocate within a 150 km2 radius of the Big Tracadie River Wild Life Management Zone. The results could be used to aid New Brunswick's wildlife management efforts in determining optimal sites for relocation of moose when forest fire outbreaks occur.